CHICAGO — PureCircle (LSE: PURE), the world’s leading producer and innovator of great-tasting stevia sweeteners for the global beverage and food industries, announces that it will vastly increase the amount of StarLeaf stevia it plants in 2018. It plans to plant nearly 16,000 tons in 2018, an increase of about 200% over the prior year. As with any agricultural crop, these plans are subject to various conditions such as weather.
PureCircle’s StarLeaf is a proprietary non-GMO stevia plant that yields roughly 20 times more of the newest and best-tasting stevia leaf sweeteners than conventional stevia varieties. These stevia sweeteners make it far easier for food and beverage companies to deliver great-tasting, sugar-reduced and sugar-free products across a wide range of food and beverage categories. And it allows them to do that with a plant-based sweetener.
With the planned increases in planting, the company estimates that 80% of the stevia plants it uses this year will be StarLeaf — likely increasing to 90% next year. Expanding the planting and use of its proprietary StarLeaf stevia leaf will enable the company to meet the increasing demand of food and beverage industries for the best-tasting – and most sugar-like – zero-calorie, stevia sweeteners.
PureCircle utilizes a wide and expanding global agricultural network for its stevia supply, sourcing it from an increasing number of countries around the world. Part of the dramatic increase in StarLeaf planting this year is the result of our new farming partnerships in North Carolina. Some farmers there – working with PureCircle — are starting to use land that once grew tobacco, to grow StarLeaf™ plants. Planting stevia enables them to grow and sell a highly-sought after crop, the demand for which is growing, and to productively use their farming acreage.
The food and beverage industry has seen a steady increase in product launches featuring stevia as an ingredient, as evidenced by the 10% increase in 2017 as compared to 2016 according to Mintel. In 2017 alone, about 3,500 products launched with stevia. Since the first regulatory green light in the U.S. in 2008 for use of stevia leaf ingredients in foods and beverages, it has been utilized in more than 16,000 products globally. Consumer awareness of stevia is growing, and stevia is viewed favorably by consumers, who continue to seek out stevia as their preferred plant-based, zero-calorie sweetener.
“We are excited about our StarLeaf stevia expansion program,” said James Foxton, Vice President of Agriculture Operations at PureCircle. “It is a testament to our world-class agronomy program, and is enabling PureCircle to deliver the best-tasting stevia varieties on a global scale. Products from this leaf are revolutionizing the way our customers work with and adopt stevia. We look forward to providing food and beverage companies access to the most sugar-like content from the leaf, at a scale which has never before been possible.”
By way of background, the story of stevia is evolving. Not long ago, it was a little known, plant-based zero-calorie sweetener – basically one ingredient — that worked well in some beverage and food applications.
But today, due largely to PureCircle’s research, development and innovation, we offer a range of stevia-based sweetener ingredients with sugar-like taste and zero calories. These from-nature sweeteners — often used in combinations with each other — work well in a wide variety of beverages and foods, and that is advantageous for beverage and food companies. They have an increasing need for just such an ingredient, because consumers, health experts and governments have become increasingly concerned about obesity and diabetes, and have also become increasingly health and wellness conscious.
PureCircle has developed solutions for food and beverage producers both to enhance their use of stevia for best taste and also to simplify their work with stevia. PureCircle offers tailored combinations of stevia ingredients designed to address the unique sweetening needs of various food and beverage categories. That makes the food and beverage producers’ formulation work easier. PureCircle’s production capability enables us to quickly meet global customer demands.